In Depth

CNN’s ‘Black in America’ Grabs Big Ratings

Four hours of “Black in America” programming over two consecutive nights produced big wins for CNN.

CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein said the series’ ratings success confirmed that CNN’s commitment to “in-depth journalism” and major-event documentaries such as “God’s Warriors,” “In the Footsteps of Bin Laden” and Christiane Amanpour’s upcoming “Genocide” is paying off.

“They obviously work and are something CNN is uniquely qualified to do,” Mr. Klein said Friday afternoon. “The other so-called cable news networks don’t have the means or the desire to cover major stories in depth. We do.”

Reported and anchored by Soledad O’Brien, the documentaries, about “Black Women & Family” Wednesday and “The Black Man” Thursday, didn’t just win their time period against the cable news competition. They won decisively, outperforming CNN’s year-to-date averages for 9-11 p.m. by double and triple digits.

According to data from Nielsen Media Research, Thursday’s installment averaged 2.6 million viewers, 1.2 million of them in the key news demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds. Fox News Channel, usually the big ratings winner, averaged 1.8 million viewers, 377,000 in the news demo, while MSNBC averaged 539,000 total viewers, 203,000 in the news demo.

Thursday night’s “Black in America” was up significantly from the strong showing for Wednesday’s opening installment, which averaged 2.1 million viewers, 966,000 of them in the 25-54 demo. Those numbers gave CNN advantages of 38% over Fox News Channel and 241% over MSNBC in total viewers. In the demo, CNN posted leads of 136% over Fox News and 356% over MSNBC on the first night.

Compared to year-to-date averages, “Black in America” Wednesday was up 64% in total viewers and 124% in the demo.